NAQCC Newsletter #057

From NAQCC VP John, K3WWP:Issue #057 of our newsletter is now posted on the NAQCC web site.

In that newsletter you’ll find info about our November challenge which involves – as usual every November – making words relating to Thanksgiving from the letters in the calls of stations you work during the month. This is the fourth edition of the Turkey challenge already – how time flies. Don’t forget the prize in conjunction with our challenges. Our first two winners of Gregg WB8LZG’s bug/paddle handle pieces were absolutely delighted with them. You have a chance to be similarly delighted by mastering this month’s challenge.

In addition to more info about the challenge, you’ll also find the following in this edition:

2. The final results of our October sprint.
3. The latest Bear Hunt news.
4. Featured Award of the Month.
4a. Latest award winners.
5. Latest general club news.
6. What our members have been doing – in the Member News section.

And that’s not all, so click on over to right now and check it out.

Amateur Radio And The California Wildfires

Ham radio is busy with the ongoing wildfires in Southern California. Massive fires have burned around 600,000 acres so far and estimates are that the overall size of the fires now equal an area about the size of New York City! Lives have been lost and damages are estimated in the billions of dollars just in the San Diego area alone. At the time of this post, an estimated 500,000 people have been displaced and the National Guard has been called out. Hams continue to provide communications at the Mountain Empire and Borrego Springs shelters over in Imperial County.

Malibu CA WilidfiresARRL San Diego Section Manager Kent Tiburski, K6FQ, says “We’ve been busy, This is by far the worst disaster we’ve ever experienced.” it is estimated that about 200 Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) and Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) volunteers are participating.

Hams have also been assisting the Red Cross efforts in terms of logistics and helping out the damage assessment teams. Other hams are helping with communications between the California Department of Forestry and the Red Cross. Around 13,000 firefighters and and their support staff are presently fighting the fires in California.

As of this post, around 1200 homes and 450,000 acres in San Diego County alone have been burned. “Everybody I’ve talked with knows someone personally or knows of someone who has lost a house,” Tibruski said. The Mount Palomar observatory has been evacuated and firefighters were making a special effort to protect it.

The hot dry Santa Ana winds have subsided. Now a stiff breeze from the ocean is driving fires to the east.

Other hams in different areas of the state are providing assistance to the Salvation Army and other relief agencies. ARRL Orange Section Manager Carl Gardenias, WU6D, said “We actually have more Amateur Radio operators available than the Red Cross shelters can use”. With additional ARES teams and other volunteers operators, hams are actually able to rotate shifts.

“The intensity of these fires has never been at this level before,” Gardenias said, comparing the current situation with fire emergencies in the recent past. Hams have been “shadowing” Red Cross shelter managers by communicating supply requests and helping with health-and-welfare inquiries.

Last but not least, ham SSTV equipment is also being used to assist the firefighters. The equipment along with ham operators ride on the fire trucks and report back to command centers what is being seen.

Review Of The Wouxun KG 669 mono band HT

“Thanks for buying wouxun brand KG-669 series transceiver. This transceiver is novel in design, strong function, stable behavior and easily operate, we believe the quality and function of the product will make you satisfying”.

Whew! Those are the first two opening statements of the user manual. So, with that in mind, the stage is set for the body of the manual and the product itself. Before continuing, I want to be honest and say that a friend of mine actually purchased this HT. However, we spent quite a few hours together trying to translate the contents of the Wouxun manual to be made “satisfying” and apply it to the “strong function, stable behavior and easily operate” HT.

An exact excerpt from the Wouxun Web site: “Established in 2000, located in Quanzhou city Jiangnan high technology industry zoon. Quanzhou Wouxun Electronics Co. Ltd is the professional developer, manufacturer and marketer WOUXUN brand serial wireless interphone, intercom battery, battery charger etc, communication apparatus. Since establishing ,we have offered the countless new products of communication of high quality and at a reasonable price to the …”. I never knew that “professional companies” establish themselves in the “zoon”. So much for the “professional company’s ability” to afford English translated spell-check software.

When the box arrived, it was marked “TOY” on the outside. We both began to wonder if that is how shipment of these and similar radios are able to bypass FCC regulations and TYPE A acceptance. I feel that the radio should be treated as a toy and used only as a receiver. Personally, I would not want to jeopardize my FCC license by transmitting with one of these “toys”.

Wouxun Kg-669 HTNow that the company background and my personal disclaimer is out of the way, I’d have to begin by saying the general feel of the radio is good, rather solid actually and far better than we anticipated. Delivery took about 10 days and the purchase included a desk charger, belt clip and hand strap.

The first feature (feature?) one might want to change is the rather annoying female voice mimicking your every move. Changing this “feature” from Jiangnan dialect to accented English makes it tolerable, at least to a point. In my opinion the translated voice sounds much like a 15 year old girl with an accent and fully clogged nasal passages. In reality, after the novelty wears off, I’d just disable it, even if that required heating up the soldering iron. Next I should mention that the advertising is deceiving and you may get the impression that these are “DUAL BAND” radios. Look over this “feature” list and note the “Output power” description:

DTMFencoding and DTMFdecoding
. Output power VHF 5W/UHF 4W
. VOX (Level adjustable)
. 105 groups D.C.S/50 groups CTCSS
. Allcall, groupcall and selectcall.
. ANI (Caller ID)
. Scrambler available(Optional accessory)
. 128 memory channels and 1 group emergency channel
. Voice guide (Chinese /English)
. Channel steps(5K/6.25K/10K/12.5K/25K)
. Wide/Narrow bandwidthselection (12.5KHz/25KHz)
. Three color back light can be selectable .
. 1200mAh Li-ion batterypack and intelligent charge
. Frequency/Channel/Frequency+Channel display mode
. Multi scan mode(TO/CO/SE)
. Calling ring and ring overtime auto answer
. Multi silent mode(QT/QTADT/QTXDT)
. Alarm/Emergency calling
. Keyboard lock(Auto/Manual)
. Talk around function
. Busy channel lockout
. Programmable by computer
. Menu/Channel reset
. FMradio function
. Car charger (Optional accessory)

One begins to notice things that seem rather odd. Scrambler mode (which requires an optional chip) and FM radio. The impression I get here is that these radios are most probably used on job sites for scrambled two way communication. I have visions of various “groups” here in the US and other locations around the world buying up bunches of these “toys” with the optional scrambler chip, then transmitting god knows what type of messages on the 2 meter band. I just hope it’s my own personal paranoia and that it never actually becomes reality.

Be careful if you do decide to key up transmitter. In our area some of the police frequencies are above the Amateur 2 Meter band allocation and the radio is fully capable of transmitting there as well. Programming the 669 was difficult. Together, I’d say we have a combined experience of 25 years buying and selling a very long list of equipment. But, this “toy” sadly beat us into submission. No matter how many times we went through the skimpy and horribly translated user manual, we were unable to get the memory channels properly loaded. As it turned out, programming the repeater output, input, CTCSS tone, repeater splits independently and then storing ALL the information into the selected memory channel is how to beat the memory storage problem! Oh yes, just one more thing as an example of “toy” status; Switching the radio between “frequency mode” (VFO) and “channel mode” (Memory) requires powering the radio off and then on with the menu button held down.

In conclusion, for a few more dollars, go out and purchase a brand name mono-band radio which you know is FCC type accepted. Get yourself an easily understandable user manual and avoid being annoyed by the design flaws and silly features of a “toy”.

A copy of the Wouxun KG-669 User Guide